While the women's movement was just beginning to ferment in 1969, Linda Gordon was a young woman working toward a Ph.D. in history and teaching at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. One night, a friend took her to a dinner party where she heard a woman say the most unbelievable things. Women were expected to be the passive partner in romantic and sexual relationships, this woman said. It's discrimination. "Some people say it's like a click," Gordon says, describing the feeling of hearing these sentiments for the first time. "It was like, That's right. Why didn't I think of that?"
Library of Congress 'First woman jury, Los Angeles,' November 1911.
That dinner-party conversation, led by the writer Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, changed the course of Gordon's life. Yet as Dunbar-Ortiz remembers it, "It seemed to me she was a full-grown feminist." Nearly five decades later, Gordon is a leading historian of the women's movement in particular and social movements in general. A professor of history at NYU and the author of eight books ranging in topic from the women's movement to Cossack uprisings to the life of the photographer Dorothea Lange, Gordon has both participated in and documented the rise of women's liberation, or feminism, as we now call it.More »